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What Could Have Been / Super Mario Bros.

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  • Going all the way back to the beginning: Shigeru Miyamoto wanted to have the game that would become the original Donkey Kong feature Popeye, Bluto, and Olive Oyl (which Nintendo had publishing rights to in Japan). When King Features Syndicate balked, Miyamoto reworked the characters to include Donkey Kong, Pauline (or "Lady" as she was originally known), and "Jumpman". Miyamoto eventually got his chance to make a Popeye game shortly after making Donkey Kong. The Popeye game was a modest arcade hit and got ported to several platforms while "Jumpman" went on to be the core character of the Super Mario mega-franchise.
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  • For the original Super Mario Bros., Mario originally was meant to shoot bullets rather than fireballs. Also, Miyamoto originally planned the controls to be A to shoot, B to run, and up on the control pad to jump, but it was decided that being able to run and shoot at the same time was too much of a Game-Breaker, so it was changed to put both shooting and running on the B button, meaning the jump could be moved to A. A later Iwata Asks interview gave a few more details about this- apparently Mario could have had a rifle, a beam gun, or a kicking move. There were also plans for Mario to be able to fly on a rocket (presumably at least somewhat similar to the plane and submarine in Super Mario Land), and later a cloud (which would later actually happen in the American Super Mario Bros. 2, and Super Mario World respectively.)
  • Super Mario Bros. 2:
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    • Interestingly enough, the game as released is what could have been. It's common knowledge that the game is a localized version of Doki Doki Panic released as a replacement for the Japanese Mario sequel, which was deemed both too similar to the original game and too borderline-Platform Hell to be commercially viable elsewhere. What's not as well-known is that Doki Doki Panic was originally conceived as a more vertically-oriented title to begin with. Whether this version of Doki Doki Panic was a Mario game or not is still up for debate.
    • For underground/inside areas, prototypes of the game used a remix the classic underground theme with loud drum samples similar to the Super Mario Bros. 3 underground theme instead of the remixed Doki Doki Panic music used in the final versions.
  • Super Mario Bros. 3
    • According to Nintendo Power Volume 10, a power-up where Mario transformed into a centaur was planned.
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    • The NES ROMs contain a bunch of unused and unfinished content, such as entire levels, enemy variants, miscellaneous graphics, different types of mini-games apparently hosted by friendly Koopa Troopas and Hammer Bros., and more.
    • In addition to the extra World-e content in the Japanese version of Super Mario Advance 4, a lot more had seemingly been planned, as evidenced by the large amounts of Dummied Out content on the ROM and the fact that the world's castle, which displays the e-coins in each of the World-e levels, was originally planned to have three floors, each with a full length e-coin gallery.
    • Initially, the dev team wanted to incorporate an isometric style of gameplay, but because they couldn't make it work they stuck with the 2D Platformer gameplay.
    • id Software created a demo as proof-of concept for their proposed DOS port of the game. While Nintendo of Japan was impressed, they declined as they had no interest in releasing games outside of their own platform. id instead used the technology to create Commander Keen.
  • Super Mario World:
    • Originally released as a launch title for the system, the game was a starting point for the team behind Super Mario Bros. 3 to adapt their work to a new system (and indeed, the game is subtitled "Super Mario Bros. 4" in Japan, and international versions had this subtitle up until very late in the development process, as evidenced by television commercials promoting the game). The game was originally intended to be released on the NES with a graphics enhancing chip in the cartridge (as the SNES later had with the Super FX in Star Fox and the Super FX 2 in Yoshi's Island), before ultimately moving onto the new system. Other scrapped elements:
      • The game would have originally taken place in a much smaller world (two islands, which looked to be similar versions of Donut Plains and Chocolate Island), and Lakitu and/or a blue sparrow would appear periodically and fly around Mario (though their purpose is still unknown). Lakitu and the bird are still programmed into the final game, but Dummied Out.
      • Toad Houses like those in Super Mario Bros. 3 can be seen in some of the earliest screenshots of the beta. These were cut from the final build, and as a result, Toad is absent from a main Mario platformer for the first and only time.
      • There would have been several areas where the player would have to dismount Yoshi (or have the dinosaur disappear), indicated by a sign with a crossed-out Yoshi image; in the final version Mario only dismounts Yoshi before going through a ghost house, fortress, or castle, and Yoshi returns for the next normal level after that. Again, the sign sprite is still programmed into the game, but unused.
      • At least three of the Koopalings were intended to be present on the overworld map (in very different locations than any corresponding level in the final game), and would "pull" Mario into stages (much like the hands in World 8 of Super Mario Bros. 3). Although their access methods were removed, their original positions can be viewed in Lunar Magic.
      • There were many sprites from Mario Bros. 3 that were intended to carry over into World, including the original Pirahna Plant, Venus Fire Trap and Raccoon Mario (as seen in beta screenshots and the SNES Test Program cartridge).
      • Yoshi itself went through several changes in production — starting off as a frog, then a western dragon, an ostrich, and finally the Yoshi we know and love — who incorporates aspects of the first three creatures.
      • Yoshi was also supposed to have been a Koopa Troopa (or a variant of the species) that would have joined Mario on his adventure. The Yoshi Koopa concept can still be seen on the final character design, where the saddle looks like a small Koopa shell.
  • There were at least two other Donkey Kong games planned for the NES — one was a simply musical spinoff, while the other was known as Return of Donkey Kong. While there is little word on this one, common speculation is that the game was ported to the Game Boy. Regardless, Donkey Kong '94 was considered one of the better original titles often overlooked. The game was going to get remade again as Donkey Kong Plus with GBA-GCN connectivity, but was dropped in favor of Mario vs. Donkey Kong (developed by the Redmond-based Nintendo Software Technology Corporation).
  • Super Mario's Wacky Worlds was originally meant to be a Philips CD-i exclusive sequel of sorts to Super Mario World, where Mario would travel through various Earth-based locations. However, it got canceled due to various reasons, and ended up replaced by Hotel Mario, also known as one of the worst games in the series, which ended up in Canon Discontinuity.
    • In addition to Wacky Worlds, there was another CD-i Mario game titled Mario Takes America, which was going to be an educational game about American culture using live-action Full Motion Video. There was also apparently a Donkey Kong game planned, though nothing is known about it beyond a guy listing it on his Linkedin resume.
  • Mario Clash, a pseudo-remake of Mario Bros. for the Virtual Boy, was originally conceived as a sequel to the Super Mario Land games for the Game Boy. View a demo video here.
  • Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games was originally going to feature Silver the Hedgehog, Jet the Hawk, Cream the Rabbit, Big the Cat, Rouge the Bat, Birdo, Goomba, and Donkey Kong as additional characters, as discovered here. In Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games, Silver and DK were elevated to playable characters, but Goomba is still MIA outside of minor cameos. However, you do race against Jet in the Festival, and Birdo is in crowd shots and eventually becomes an opponent in 2012 London. Cream also survived as a referee character alongside Toad..
  • Super Mario 64:
    • The game was originally going to be made entirely of more linear levels in the style of the Bowser stages. 3D Land and 3D World revisit this concept.
    • Nintendo Power at one point mentioned a sequel to Super Mario 64 for the ill-fated 64DD that would have had Luigi as a playable character, which didn't happen until the DS version of the original game (and the first time he was playable in an original 3D game was the Super Mario Galaxy games, over a decade after the release of Super Mario 64).
    • There were supposed to be 32 worlds rather than the 15 that were shipped. Players were also supposed to be able to take control of both Mario and Luigi and complete different parts of the castle simultaneously, which obviously means the game was originally a multiplayer game. Yoshi was also supposed to have had a much larger role in the game rather than just hiding on the roof of the castle. A Yoshi Egg graphic from this earlier stage is still in the game, but Dummied Out.
    • Super Mario 64 DS was originally called Super Mario 64x4 and would have featured co-op multiplayer, as it showed Yoshi, Mario, Luigi, and Wario all fighting Bowser at once.
    • Several years later, Super Mario Galaxy and especially its sequel are pretty heavy on linear levels. Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario Galaxy 2 let you ride Yoshi. The Mario and Luigi co-op still wasn't seen in 3D until Super Mario 3D World. Also, Rosalina was originally going to be portrayed as a relative to Peach (she still resembles Peach somewhat in the final version).
  • Super Mario Sunshine:
    • Some members of the "The Cutting Room Floor" wiki found some leftovers in the Japanese Super Mario Sunshine version which indicate that you got to the levels via train stations. You bought tickets with Sol Coins, which were removed completely. Another interesting thing is that the station list mentions levels that were cut out or even never created at all. These are "Hotel Lacrima" (either cut completely or merged into Sirena Beach), "Battleship Island", "Erto Rock", "Lighthouse Island", and "Flame Temple".
    • In predevelopment there was talk of having Mario paint as well as wash away paint. This was scrapped because the Gamecube's hardware couldn't handle that, though a similar idea was reused in Splatoon for the Wii U.
    • FLUDD started out as a water pistol. It was scrapped because Mario isn't allowed to use guns and because several at Nintendo weren't into the idea of Mario using tools, period. Other ideas going around included a water pump with a man running next to Mario pumping the water. Later in development, FLUDD had a thinner design.
    • The Space World 2001 trailer shows a different looking Isle Delfino. It featured human NPCsnote , a bigger Isle Delfino with more alleyways, only blue Piantas, and a giant onion enemy (most likely a boss) called "Stu". It's speculated that, due to not fitting the environment, Stu was only added into Isle Delfino for the trailer. Stu's files still exist in the game's files. It has a third eye on top of its "head", which causes it to explode when hit with water enough, and a skull-looking mask with horns on it.
    • The hud went through several changes. The Space World 2001 trailer shows a simple sun icon that showed how much water FLUDD had in it and a cut Sol Coin counter (to go with the cut train system). The E3 2002 trailer and various prerelease screenshots show a different red hud.
    • A cut ice cream stall can be seen in the 2002 E3 trailer. It was used as spring for Mario and its model still exists in the files. Other differences from the trailer include: ships docked in Rico Harbor, the police guarding a Blue Coin instead of a secret level, enemies still walking around Isle Delfino, giant Petey Piranha heads bounding around Pianta Hills, a slightly different design for the Boos, Blooper Blooper being dark blue instead of white, and Yoshi being green.
    • In Gelato Beach, an inaccessible book can be seen underwater. Many urban legends exist that this can be accessed only in the Japanese version, but it's just an accidental leftover in all versions of the game. It was supposed to be used to find a star however the method was changed prior to release.
    • Originally Yoshi was green on default and would only change colours when he ate fruit. He didn't die when he ran out of fruit and would only die when touching water.
  • Super Mario Galaxy
    • As revealed by Shigeru Miyamoto in an interview with Famitsu, the game was going to have more power ups and features that were left out due to time constraints. They were saved for the sequel.
    • The sequel to Galaxy was supposed to have a more developed story and expand upon Rosalina's history. However, Miyamoto decided against the idea and wanted the game to focus more on the game play itself as Super Mario Bros. had done. This explains why in Super Mario Galaxy 2, Rosalina only appears in the ending.
    • According to a Super Mario Galaxy preview on G4 (circa 2006), it was initially going to be a Nintendo GameCube game.
    • Mahito Yokota originally composed up to 28 musical pieces for Super Mario Galaxy that had Latin beats. Koji Kondo said they were no good, so Yokota eventually came up with the sweeping orchestral pieces that made it into the final game.
    • Rosalina was originally intended to be related to Peach in some manner.
  • Retro Studios wanted to do a Mario football game. As the company was formed mainly for games viewing mature audiences (its founder and many employees worked on Turok), Nintendo instead suggested to make a realistic football sim. That game had some development, but was canned as development of Metroid Prime progressed (and that game itself earns its own entry elsewhere on this site).
  • Rosalina was intended to be playable in Mario Tennis Open at some point in development, but since designing a model for her would have taken some time, they took the easy way out and added Luma instead.
  • Around the time that Waluigi was created for Mario Tennis, there were ideas for a "Wapeach" to also be introduced, but that idea was scrapped.
  • Luigi's Mansion:
    • The game was planned to be in stereoscopic 3D using an add-on, but when the production of said add-on turned out to be more expensive than the system itself, it was canned. It makes sense that when Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon was announced, it was on the Nintendo 3DS, which has 3D without the need for an add-on.
    • The game originally had Mario in a starring role and the house was more of a Japanese castle. The house was later re-tooled into a dollhouse and, after the developers began to experiment with lighting effects, decided to turn it into a haunted house.
    • The game originally had RPG elements, but the developers wanted more of a focus on action-based gameplay.
    • As seen in the E3 2001 trailer, the Poltergust 3000 originally had a heat meter. If Luigi vacuumed for too long, the Poltergust would combust and damage him. The Game Boy Horror was also supposed to always show a first-person perspective during gameplay, but this was too resource-intensive.
    • The game was going to have a 2-player mode, which is also seen in an unused model of Mario stretched out to Luigi's proportions with straps for the Poltergust. This would be implemented in the 3DS version with Gooigi as the second player.
  • Super Mario Odyssey had several ideas scrapped shown in the book The Art of Super Mario Odyssey reveals concept art for several unused elements in the game. These include, but are not limited to...
    • Different outfits for Mario.
    • New Donk City not based on the Donkey Kong series but rather Mario-themed.
    • Rosalina wearing casual clothes and playing an acoustic guitar.
    • Bowser having his own Capture hat, complete with concept art where Peach gets turned into a fusion of herself and Bowser thanks to it.note 
  • For Super Mario 3D Land, director Koichi Hayashida suggested fairly early on in development to include the Goomba's Shoe as a power-up. This idea was nixed fairly quickly, though. An ice skate powerup that heavily resembles the Shoe appears in a few levels of Super Mario 3D World. There were also suggestions of a cockroach-like enemy that can only be squashed by folding up the 3DS. (While no Mario game had this function, there were games for the original DS with similar functions.)
  • The original localized name for Punchinello in Super Mario RPG was James Bomb. This name was rejected, although he still introduces himself as "Nello... Punchinello".
  • Paper Mario 64:
    • Paper Mario was originally entitled "Super Mario RPG 2". After copyright conflicts rose with Squaresoft, the game was renamed "Mario RPG 64". After one of the developers showed an idea for a new style of gameplay with paper characters in cardboard environments, the game was re-named "Mario Story" in Japan and got the name "Paper Mario" in North America.
    • Early screencaps show a different, less stylized art-style.
  • In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, an early design for the Smorgs (along with a "dark" version) can be found on the disc, resembling a ghostly Waddling Head. Though this was replaced with the cloudlike design, the early Smorg graphics made it into the final version as Screamy, one of Luigi's partners.
  • Infamously, Paper Mario: Sticker Star was originally closer in design to the first two games, boasting such things as a Chain Chomp partner, a crowned Monty Mole boss, and a unique card level. When Shigeru Miyamoto got involved, however, he declared the game was too similar to "the GameCube game", and asked the developers to use fewer original characters and less story. However, the developers ultimately took his requests the wrong way. The end result was a very polarizing game that is widely seen as the worst installment in the Paper Mario series, and (a bit unfairly) tainted Miyamoto's reputation considerably among many fans.
  • Mario Kart 64 was, according to the previews, originally called Super Mario Kart R and was going to have a Magikoopa (possibly Kamek) in the character roster, but he was later replaced by Donkey Kong.
  • The New Super Luigi U downloadable Expansion Pack wasn't originally Luigi focused. It wasn't until the dev-team heard about The Year of Luigi that they decided to head in that direction.
  • The game Croc was originally pitched by developer Argonaut to Nintendo as a 3D Yoshi game, though Nintendo turned it down. This upset the developers so much that Croc was only released on rival platforms, such as the Playstation, as revenge, although both it and its sequel received Game Boy Color versions.
  • Next Level Games, the developers of the Mario Strikers games, were planning to make another Mario sports game for the Wii. Originally called Mario Volleyball, it was changed to Super Mario Spikers as the developers decided to add wrestling and game show elements, inspired by the cancellation of one of their earlier WWE games, WWE Titans: Parts Unknown. While Nintendo was originally open for the idea, they eventually decided not to greenlight the project, as the game's more realistic violence (compared to the more slapstick "violence" of the Mario Strikers or Super Smash Bros. games, especially within a sporting competition) clashed with their code of honor, and the game was cancelled in 2007.
  • Super Mario Maker was originally intended to be a sequel to Mario Paint but along the line they decided to add the ability to create new levels. Also, it was originally just called "Mario Maker", and the graphics style for the Super Mario Bros. theme was more stylized, with a beveled edge on the ground blocks.
  • Ian Flynn pitched an Archie published ''Super Mario'' comic to Nintendo with concept art created by Ben Bates and Tracy Yardley. The comic was going be more story-driven similar to that of Archie Comics’ Mega Man with the plot being that Mario would be yearning to be more than a plumber while Luigi was satisfied with their career. One day, they would be hired to repair pipes at Peach's castle only to find that Bowser had ransacked the Mushroom Kingdom and kidnapped her. Mario sees this as an opportunity to become a hero while Luigi wants nothing to do with it. However, during Mario's final confrontation with Bowser, Luigi would come to his brother's rescue and destroy the bridge Bowser was standing on, sending him falling into lava. The rescued Peach would named the brothers her royal plumbers while The Stinger would show a vengeful Bowser crawling out of the lava. According to rumors heard by Flynn, Nintendo of America liked the idea but the main branch in Japan hated it. Flynn has also reflected that had he done the pitch today, he would have made the story more whimsical instead of focusing on drama, which could be the reason why the comic was rejected.
  • In 1996, Electronic Gaming magazine mentioned a game called Mario's Castle coming for the next Game Boy. Neither the game or the Game Boy (the unreleased "Project Atlantis") ever came out.
  • LSuperSonicQ has done a video on what is likely the first Mario plush ever developed. It was found in 2016 and iooks jarringly like Mario's Donkey Kong design. It helps that the company, Etone, released a Donkey Kong plush. The problem is that the plush isn't labeled and the tag (which might be a placeholder) says it's from 1978.
  • In the 1990s, Fleetway (who published Sonic the Comic) pitched a Nintendo Comic featuring Mario.
  • Donkey Kong Vs Super Wario was a Rareware pitch that lead to Donkey Kong Country being made. The pitch involved Wario going to the future and stealing futuristic technology to try to take over Nintendo Land. Donkey Kong finds out and tries to stop him.

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